Cullompton is a comforting place to be. If you live in Devon, it means you’re not too far from home. If you’re just visiting, well, you can get anywhere from here. Its handy location means the mid-county town has a reputation for being a bit commuter-ville for Exeter or simply the place to stop for a comfort break at Cullompton services at Junction 28 on the M5.

I like that about it, though. And being somewhere useful is presumably why people have been living in and around here for thousands of years.

It’s thought that St Colomba came to the area in about 450AD and set up his preaching station close to the river ‘where two roads intersected’, possibly somewhere in the St Georges Well area. It was around this preaching station that the town of Cullompton gradually emerged.

Textiles made the area prosperous and by the 18th century, Cullompton was one of the top four cloth towns in Devon. 

Prosperous towns equal nice buildings and Cullompton is blessed with some corkers, including a wonderfully restored Grade I-listed house, called The Walronds. Extensive restoration work began in October 2012 before the building finally opened its doors in 2014. It’s been a thriving community hub ever since.

Great British Life: The extraordinary rood screen at St Andrew's Church in Cullompton attracts many visitors Photo: Guy Edwardes Photography/AlamyThe extraordinary rood screen at St Andrew's Church in Cullompton attracts many visitors Photo: Guy Edwardes Photography/Alamy

The other significant landmark is St Andrew’s Church, widely regarded as one of the finest parish churches in England.

There’s a heritage trail to discover more buildings and Cullompton’s role in producing cloth and clothing (pick up a leaflet from the library).

The town’s award-winning farmers’ market takes place twice a month in the Bullring, showcasing the other good thing going on here – food.

Cullompton (or Cully as it’s affectionally known) does a good line in local produce, thanks to being in the heart of the bountiful Culm Valley. There’s a great family-run butcher’s (Veysey’s) a gluten-free artisan bakery (Gluten Escape) and there’s a fab farm shop, just out of town (Fordmore Farm Shop).

Getting locals to celebrate all that’s good about living here has become a mission of late in a commuter town that can feel as though its residents just come and go. A series of festivals take place regularly throughout the year and there’s a community-led programme to breathe new life into the high street through arts and culture.

It’s a gateway to a lot of good things, Cullompton. Don’t just pass on through.

Food and drink

The Bakehouse Café and bar (High Street) is central to proceedings here, with a creative specials board and old favourites (bubble and squeak!) served in a lovely old building setting. The Olive Well (High Street) has been a welcome addition. Run by experienced chef and local Robert Phillips, the restaurant with rooms opened in October 2021 and has gone from strength to strength. Simple food – pizza, pasta, etc – done well.

There’s the usual selection of take aways but other than that, head to some of the local watering holes. The Weary Traveller (they know their clientele here) is in Station Road and has a beer garden and a family-friendly menu.

The Merry Harriers in Westcott has pub grub and cask ales. The Pony and Trap (Exeter Hill) is a traditional local.

Great British Life: Stay at Blackdown Yurts on Halsbeer Farm. Photo: Blackdown Yurts Stay at Blackdown Yurts on Halsbeer Farm. Photo: Blackdown Yurts

Where to stay

The Olive Well has nicely styled rooms available. Newcourt Barton B&B, Langford, offers single, double, twin and family accommodation on a family-run farm. There are also four well-stocked coarse fishing ponds within 500 yards of the B&B, should you feel the need to treat yourself to a day beside the water’s edge. The Padbrook Park Hotel, Swallow Way, is a decent three-star with views of the rolling mid-Devon countryside.

Blackdown Yurts on Halsbeer Farm provide a unique glamping adventure in the warmer months. The farm site has four lovingly restored thatched cottages, which includes two barn conversions available for larger family groups. All guests have the use of an indoor heated pool, games room, conservatory, deck and gardens.

Great British Life: Coldharbour Mill is nearby and worth a visit. Photo: Gary HolpinColdharbour Mill is nearby and worth a visit. Photo: Gary Holpin

More to do

Working mill: Coldharbour Mill in nearby Uffculme is one of the oldest woollen mills in the UK. It’s been in continuous production since 1797. Coldharbour is now a working museum where visitors can see sights and sounds of the industrial revolution.

A river runs through it: The River Culm is the longest tributary of the Exe, rising in the Blackdown Hills and flowing through the villages of Hemyock, Culmstock and Uffculme before turning into Cullompton and eventually joining the Exe on the outskirts of Exeter.

Centuries old: A church has stood on the site of St Andrew’s Parish Church since Saxon times but the present building dates from the early 15th century. Several adaptations in the 16th century included the addition of the tower.